Below until natural lighting is the research I conducted for my last project in which I focused on the use of volumetric lighting.

3 point lighting is used to light a subject so that they are clear to see from the front while the back light stops the subject merging with any dark background in order to highlight the shots depth. the side light is used to fill out any shadows that have too much contrast with the rest of the subject.

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these are pictures from our 3 point lighting trials showing how each light contributes to lighting the scene. the key and back light were Arri 650 fresnel and the side light was a diffused panel light. we tried using reflectors and diffusers so that the shot looked right on the camera and that each light seemed the same camera.


Reflector – reflects the light so that it can be manipulated and/or softened.

Diffuser – spreads the light out softening hard edges and removing intensity.

barn doors – alters the width size of the lights beam.

In my previous lighting project I looked at the work of Caravaggio and this is the research I did then which will be relevant in the volumetric lighting shots I will be doing:

Caravaggio was a realist to the extreme ‘Caravaggio’s intense level of realism was hardly appreciated by his peers. The thinkers behind the Council of Trent wanted art to be more natural than the Mannerist fantasies that had been in style, but Caravaggio went above and beyond this call.
This artist shows everything, from dirty fingernails, to the dirty bottoms of feet, to the bruises and worm holes on apples and the holes in pierced ears.

chiaroscuro was the style he founded it is the us of light to create volume and emphasize humanism.

tenebrism is the extreme of chiaroscuro and is used to demonstrate division and suffering.

In 1606, Caravaggio had to flee Rome with a price on his head after committing a murder. From 1606-10, he was constantly on the run, from Naples, to Malta, to Sicily, painting all the way. During this time of intense fear and personal trauma, Caravaggio’s paintings reached the ultimate in darkness and despair. Focusing on religious subjects and portraits his works were grim, somber and unsettling.‘ quotes from –

In my work I intend to use the effect of chiaroscuro to show a relationship between:

1: Two  characters. by having a character enter the light I hope for it to symbolize hope found through the character who moves into the light.

2: A person and an unfamiliar environment, This will use the lighting to make the environment seem deeper and darker. The character will put there hand in the light so that it acts like a gobo which should create an interesting aesthetic and show that the character  is experimenting with there light as they don’t recognize the surroundings.

3: A character and there feelings aka shaky torch beam through mist showing fear and apprehension.

4. I wish to create an ambient mood by using a tree branch as a gobo to make the scene look interesting.

This research document has some interesting points about the physiological and psychological effects of light in a space:

the tables are of particular interest as thought people generally know how lighting and color effects emotions this provides a value  and a pattern for instance using intense blue light in order to create sympathy will also increase an audiences heart rate which provides a great opportunity to alter the tempo of sounds and change the entire perceptual mood of a scene.

“Direct light creates that stimulation, directly affecting the senses straight on. We need stimulation in lighting, the excitement and keeping the senses engaged in Entertainment lighting. In order to compete with the industry of entertainment in general.

Indirect light creates calm, suspense or curiosity playing on the senses via emotions and feelings. Can be used effectively to give the senses a break from being too over-stimulated. Creating a balance.” ––physiology-effects-of-lighting.html

These are some of the volumetric lighting tests I did:

For this test shot I tried using the haze machine in order to provide the light with are large medium that would allow its rays to be visible. The weekend I shot this my relatives were sprung on me so I had less time than I thought meaning that on Sunday night I tried a night shoot. I wasn’t impressed with the results on camera and I feel that this is mostly due to the fact that it was outside and I was unable to contain the haze and so it escaped over the wall. (thankfully my neighbors were out) the torch beam had very little impact and the street light wasn’t directional and so didn’t provide  the effect I was looking for (though the effect was interesting.)  I believe that the main issue I had was the fact that the surroundings were to dark and the haze to dense to the point where there was no point in having any sort of location or subject as it wouldn’t have shown up negating my intended purpose for the volumetric lighting which is to add depth to a scene and subject.

These tests and research help as they show that in order for me to achieve a volumetric lighting effect I shall use a confined area with talcum powder and a strong torch. This means that the smaller the space the easier it is to create a volumetric lighting sequence. but also that a bright torch in a dusty area can have enough effect to create the same mood as full on volumetric light.


Natural lighting:

Natural lighting is a very good way to film as the sun is a very good source of light which will illuminate almost the entire subject. The sun ranges in temperature, but as it is turning into summer the light temperature is likely to be around 9000 Kelvin meaning that to simulate the bad weather I will want to make the white balance a lot colder but I will also want low iso and aperture otherwise the shots could become very over exposed. A negative side to filming with natural lighting is that over the day the light changes as the sun moves. This means that in order to film the naturally lit scenes I will have to make sure that the change in lighting is seamless and that the filming is timed so that the lighting  in the same location matches shot by shot. This basically means that all the shots in each location should be shot quickly, but well so that they look like they were filmed at the same time even if they are reordered. in order to sustain continuity I should try and avoid shots with the sun in them as if the suns position keeps changing during the scene it would look amateur and badly planed.

When using natural lighting then there is specific equipment you may want for example you want a camera that is good in the lighting you are working with so you may want a different camera for night shots as opposed to a summer day.Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 10.06.08 AM.png

cannon provides this tool to experiment with the exposure triangle camera settings: so you can see how to get good exposure. In college we use canon 550d so I don’t get to choose the camera however I have experience working with this camera and so I know how to adapt its settings to a level I am happy with. If I were working as a D.O.P my main hold back would be budget and I would have to use experience, contacts and comparison sites to find the best cameras for strong daylight. You will also want to choose the right lens for example if you are shooting in a bright area of little contrast you are better with a wide lens as not only will that show more of the scenery but it will also provide a good depth of field when the background is far away and a subject is in a close shot. Reflectors and flags to control light intensity and to fill in harsh shadows. To make a reflector all I would need is a shiny white surface or any other reflective surface that don’t cast color onto the scene. This also helps if I wish to diffuse the light so it isn’t as bright.

When filming with natural lighting famously the best hours for quality lighting are the early morning and late afternoon when the sun is just below and again when just above the horizon. at this time you can still see the color of the sky but the sun isn’t so intense that it over exposes shots  or creates harsh shadows.

Here is the list of the types of natural lighting and description taken from: (the irrelevant notes have been removed, but I am not the writer) –

Direct Sunlight
This as the name suggests is the type of lighting whereby there are few or no clouds in the sky allowing a full and bright beam of sunlight through. As the sun rises higher in the sky, the light becomes more harsh.
This type of light can be described as hard or harsh and it makes for some very dramatic and rigid imagery. As a rule of thumb, the type of light will be most complimentary towards nature subjects of similar descriptions. I.e harsh and rigid direct sunlight will be most effective when used with harsh and rigid subjects.  The dramatic lines, shadows and strong tones will help you to create additional impact.
Open Shade
This is a natural lighting condition, which again requires a sunny day with a limited number of clouds present in the sky. However, unlike in the case of direct sunlight, your subject is positioned within an area of shade. This shade can be caused by anything that can block the subject from direct sunlight and typically includes things such as trees or even hills. You can easily create your own open shade lighting conditions through holding up a piece of cardboard or another opaque object to block the light from your subject. By reducing the harshness created by direct sunlight, your lighting conditions become much more complimentary towards your subject.
Overcast/ Diffused Sunlight
Overcast light softens and can create magical moments in your filmmakingOvercast light softens and can create magical moments in your filmmaking
When there are clouds in the sky preventing direct sunlight, you experience a lighting condition which is somewhere in between direct sunlight and open shade. The intensity and of course the quality of the light will depend on exactly how overcast the sky is and this will influence whether your imagery turns out slightly softer or a great deal softer. Play around with different subjects to find out exactly how the visual is effected.
Backlighting creates a dramatic look to your film
Filming your subject using backlighting  can be hard to get right but when you do it can turn your imagery from ordinary to magical; and this is particularly true with nature. Angles are important when it comes to backlight and it will probably take some experimentation to ensure that your subject remains in focus and doesn’t become washed out all together by the bright sunlight. This lighting condition is particularly effective with nature subjects with strong shapes as the outlines and contrasts should prove to be very dramatic.
This is a perfect opportunity to film the lines of your subject by using backlighting to silhouette your subject.
This is also the type of light that makes dew covered insects and spider webs magically glisten.I often walk into the sun when exploring tall grass prairies for this particular reason. Walking into the sun I can easily spot dew covered subjects because they stand out like beacons against the non-backlight surroundings.
Backlighting is also great for lighting up the edges of your subject. It’s great light and I think far too many people don’t take advantage of it. I encourage you to go out and experiment with filming your subjects backlit and seem them in a whole new way.
Front Light
Front light results in flat subjects lacking texture and detailFront light results in flat subjects lacking texture and detail
Front lighting tends to flatten a subject.  Shadows fall behind your subject and you often lose details such as texture because you’ve lost the contrast between the shadows and the highlights.  There should be very few shadows and the whole subject should be lit up in a flat and balanced way. You won’t achieve incredibly dramatic visuals with this type of lighting but you should find that the lighting is easy to film in. In fact the old saying back in the film days was to keep the sun over your shoulder. This was really necessitated  because film wasn’t as sensitive to light several decades ago so by front lighting your subject, you were ensured in most cases to get a well exposed subject.
Side Light
Side lighting brings out the textures and details of your subject
Side lighting is used for more creative and artistic imagery. Side light promotes depth and texture so you can achieve some great detail and contrasting effects when you experiment with this type of lighting.
Magic Hour
There’s no better description for this kind of light besides being truly magical
Well first of all, magic hour is kind of a misnomer. It really doesn’t last an hour unless you are closer to the poles where at certain times of year the sun skims the horizon sometimes for several hours at a time.
Magic hour it is the period of time just after the sun rises over the horizon and just before it drops below. In other words it is the first and final minutes of sunlight each day. With the sun so close to or even below the horizon the sunlight is diffused through more of the atmosphere so that the intensity of the direct sunlight is significantly reduced. Shadows become long and the lighting becomes both softer and warmer in hue. For many filmmakers this is the most desirable lighting condition and the preferable option when it comes to shooting nature subjects. However, as  ‘magic hour’ is only available for such a short period of time each day it is important for you as a filmmaker to be in a position to take advantage of it when it occurs.
These are all useful because it shows how the lighting makes the shot look and describes specific features of them. The lighting forms that are the most interesting for me are open shade, overcast and front light for which I have left the pictures in.  To create the overcast look I am after I shall have to use camera settings and possibly a diffusion flag as the sunlight at this time of year is quite harsh. Another way that I may be able to create the effect is shooting during blue hour which is the hour where the sun has just passed the horizon as this would mean that I have no harsh sunlight. The front light I feel would suit my opening wide shot because it shows the entire landscape evenly lit and in detail. another benefit is that for this shot I don’t require an overcast surrounding so it will require very little setup to make the shot look right.

About kitjaytaylor

Film student
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2 Responses to lighting

  1. kendalcollegefilm says:

    Excellent work on the volumetric lighting tests, Kit, showing real dedication to nailing a challenging technique. Your final was very good. This post also contains strong contextual material on lighting conditions and how to use them.


  2. Pingback: Evaluation | Kit Taylor

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